The Development of CARICOM’s Regional Quality Infrastructure Continues

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 11, 2022 (SKNBS): Director of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS) and Chairman of the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) Council, Stuart LaPlace, has stated that the development of CARICOM’s Regional Quality Infrastructure has not been hampered by global challenges and that projections for its future looks promising.

Mr. LaPlace was at the time speaking at the 41st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ in Barbados on October 10th.

He noted that demand for quality improvement services has increased, especially in response to recent and ongoing global challenges, such as the increased demand for health-related standards and testing, measurement certainty in health and trade-related matters, accredited testing methods and results, and third-party certification services to international management system standards. These challenges have contributed significantly to the industry’s continued development.

“Continued demand is an indication that robust quality infrastructure – namely standards development, metrology, or measurement services development; accreditation, testing, inspection, and certification, as well as quality promotions – are not just important, but vital for any growing economy,” he said. “If we intend to not just survive, but to thrive during these challenging times, quality competitiveness and quality infrastructure must be central tenets.”

The director stated that the need for quality management systems is increasing, and the network of bureau has been collaborating to give information, education, and assistance in this and other areas. He added that they also cooperate with our international colleagues and the CROSQ Secretariat.

“As a network of national standards bureau within the CARICOM Region, CROSQ continues to explore ways in which we can respond collectively and assist each other, particularly during these difficult times of increased quality and price competitiveness – where quality matters even more,” said Mr. LaPlace. “In many cases, our economies are small and our internal markets finite, which is why we need the potential for expansion, which trading provides. And the only way to successfully trade in goods and services is to meet the regulatory and other requirements to enter new and existing markets. Markets that are likewise tightening their own controls. This is where a sound quality infrastructure shows its strength.”

CROSQ has survived for 20 years on the strength of its quality infrastructure, and current engagements and business sector trends point to its ongoing relevance, said Mr. LaPlace. He added that for another 20 years, it will be able to respond to requests and meet the requirements of Member States.

“Thus, because of our commitment to cultivating sturdy and responsive systems, over the past year we have embarked on a process of broadening our collective outlook, through the development of a new strategic plan for the network,” he said. “A scan of the past three years brings us the realization that times are changing, and that resilience is an aspect of national development to which quality infrastructure can and must contribute. Our new 2022 to 2025 strategic plan begins the process of looking at just how we can continue to answer the call and respond to those needs. It is one of the highlights of this, our 41st meeting.”

Antigua confident in meeting expenses, expects to issue US$200m bond in two weeks

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The Antigua & Barbuda government says it may suggest to some of creditors that they consider taking a haircut on outstanding debt, even while telegraphing confidence in meeting its financial obligations, including paying increased wages and outstanding arrears to public servants by the end of this year.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in a two-hour television interview that his administration was banking on receiving at least US$25 million from the Caribbean Development Bank, among other sources of funding, including a US$200 million bond, which is expected to be finalised within two weeks.

Browne said he hoped the CDB funding would become available within the next “30 to 60 days”, noting that a planned meeting of the board of the regional development bank had been delayed.

The financing for Antigua was expected to be on the agenda.

“So we expect that sometime this month or next month that they will have this board meeting. We have earmarked those funds for certain funding including giving public servants an increase,” he said.

Browne referenced an agreement reached in 2018 for an initial five per cent increase, but the final amount was to be negotiated later.

“I believe initially there was a proposal for seven per cent which was rejected by the various bargaining agents and we have asked our negotiating teams to increase the amount,” said Brown.

“So I am hoping that within the upcoming weeks they will come to some agreement and we will have a formal proposal before the Cabinet which we stand ready to accept.”

The government wants to have the agreement in place to pay the increase, including retroactive salaries, before December 31.

Browne also said that in pursuing other initiatives to fund socio-economic projects, his government has floated a US$200 million bond.

“You would recognise that we have not recovered the full revenue, we are still about maybe 10 per cent below 2019 levels, so we have to borrow to fund the expenses,” he said.

“As you know we would have floated a bond earlier in the year, a US$200 million bond,” he said on Sunday.

“Unfortunately the initial subscriber did not offer a good deal. So it was just last week that we were able to get them to transfer the bond to another entity and I believe next week we will sign off on this bond on the basis that all goes well, funds should start to flow from that bond probably within the next 14 days.”

Browne expects to net about US$160 million from the proceeds, and that the funds would flow to Antigua over a period of 60 days.

The original bond was priced to yield 10 per cent, but the current one would yield more than that, and could amount to at least US$8 million more in interest payments, he said.

“On the basis of that coming through, clearly we will have the type of funding in order to pay the back pay and to cover other expenses. We know for example that our creditors, those who provide services to the government … many of them have arrears and we want to make sure we make some substantial payments.”

Browne added that for some creditors, the suggestion was “that they take a haircut and then we pay off the balance”, adding, “we want to make a significant dent in the outstanding payables so that we can have more monies in the economy and even to fuel more robust growth”.

The Antigua economy is forecast to grow by 7.5 per cent next year.

“When you look at the plethora of projects coming on stream and the fact that the public sector itself will be poised for spending more money within the domestic economy, then it means we should be in a position to even exceed that seven-and-a-half per cent,” the PM said.

The interview was conducted on state-owned media ABS.



83rd Session For The Committee On The Elimination Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Saint Kitts And Nevis – Minister’s Statement October 12, 2022

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation

Good day, I’d like to thank the Chair and executives of this committee for the opportunity to present during this 83rd session of CEDAW. My name is Isalean Phillip; I am a Senator in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis and a Minister with responsibilities for Youth Empowerment; Social Development, Gender Affairs, Ageing and Disabilities. I am honoured to be here to present the periodic report on how my country has been meeting its obligations to the CEDAW convention.

St. Kitts and Nevis ratified the CEDAW convention in 1965 and presented its first report in 2002. This session is the second time in our nation’s history that we are presenting a report and it covers the period 2002 to 2018. For those who may not know, St. Kitts and Nevis is a twin-island Federation located in the Eastern Caribbean. We are the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere with a population of around 55,000. Since the submission of the official report, in August this year, St. Kitts and Nevis underwent a change in government administration which resulted in the election of the 4th Prime Minister in the history of the Federation. The change in my country’s leadership was followed by the inauguration of a new Cabinet of Ministers that took office on August 13th, just one month before the country celebrated its 39th year of independence.

Now I’m highlighting these historic details because I believe they are important to consider as the committee assesses and evaluates the performance and potential of St. Kitts and Nevis to fulfil its commitment to the objective and articles of the CEDAW Convention.

Subsequent to our report submission, CEDAW followed up with a list of issues and questions that came out of our submission. Our responses to the committee’s initial questions are captured in our latest submission which I understand is posted online.

Now for my presentation and statement today, I will use the opportunity to speak more to recent developments, by acknowledging consistent challenges faced, identifying opportunities for growth, and sharing visions of progress and our plans for the advancement of women’s equality, girl empowerment and social protection and legal protections afforded to women across St. Kitts and Nevis.

Regarding the Constitutional and Legislative Framework

Women in St. Kitts and Nevis can rely on the Constitution and enshrined laws to ensure our entitlement to equal recognition and treatment according to human rights law. The Constitution prohibits discrimination of any kind on the basis of sex and currently, there are no laws that legalize discriminatory behaviour towards women specifically. When it comes to our legislative agenda, judges and magistrates are setting legal precedents that dismantle laws which do not represent the forward-thinking, liberal social and political thought of citizens and residents in St. Kitts and Nevis today. For example, just last month on August 29th, the High Court struck down the colonial buggery law which criminalized same-sex intimacy as well as consensual heterosexual anal sex. The High Court determined that the buggery law was discriminatory since it was found to unfairly target members who identify with the LGBTQ community. This recent High Court ruling demonstrates the awareness and readiness of our state judiciary to address and repeal discriminatory laws that unfairly bias or repress individuals of a certain gender or sexual orientation.

I can also report that the Attorney General and myself as Minister of Gender Affairs have been in discussion about plans for the formation of an inter-ministerial committee to review and consider adjusting the constitutional definition of discrimination so that it can align more with the definition proposed and advocated for by the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. This inter-ministerial committee will form part of the strategic plan to influence cultural shifts in the elimination of discrimination against women.

To support legislative advancements, cultural reform to break gendered stereotypes is also needed in St. Kitts and Nevis. Cultural practices and gendered stereotypes influence attitudes towards the roles and responsibilities of men and women in society. As such, programmes directed towards boys and men that aim to increase awareness in society and change discriminatory attitudes are developed and implemented by the government and community groups. The Department of Gender Affairs creates opportunities to educate and raise public awareness through its Boys Mentorship Programme and International Men’s Day commemorations. Activities include panel discussions on men’s issues and family matters to sensitize and educate men on their rights and responsibilities as men and fathers and cook-off competitions that promote healthy expressions of masculinity in the domestic sphere to break gender role stereotypes.

Gender-based Violence and Women’s Access to Justice

Gender-based violence in St. Kitts and Nevis continues to be a concern due to its prevalence. According to statistics from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, reported cases of domestic violence have increased steadily, with a noted surge following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic brought additional pressure to families already suffering from financial hardship including sudden loss of income and increased household tensions, exacerbated by lockdown measures designed to contain the spread of the virus. As a result, statistics for domestic violence reports in 2020 reveal a 400% increase in reports, where the total number of reported cases increased from 87 in 2019 to 359 in 2020. Correspondingly, in the first quarter of 2022, there were 132 reported cases of domestic violence, of which 83% represented female complainants. To respond to this issue, a multi-pronged approach to system and cultural reform is required.

While the Federation has made strides in promoting women’s access to justice through the adoption of domestic violence legislation and the establishment of a Special Victims Unit that responds to cases of domestic and sexual crime, there still exists a lack of public trust in the police to respond to reports of domestic violence, sexual harassment and abuse at home or in the workplace. This likely results in the under reporting of related crimes by victims and community witnesses. To improve in this area, the Department of Gender Affairs has taken the initiative to build stronger relationships with the SVU, and support the unit’s efforts to increase capacity by recruiting and training more officers in gender-sensitive response and investigation practices. To extend this work, Gender Affairs also plans to build its own staff capacity in order to provide the expertise and curriculum that facilitates consistent and sustainable gender-sensitive training to all police officers as part of mandatory training programs. Also in an effort to reduce instances of harassment towards female officers within the Military Defence Force, an institutional policy against sexual harassment was drafted and adopted for enforcement.

As part of the national gender policy action plan, gender mainstreaming will be coordinated across government ministries and programming. With the assistance of PAHO, a Gender Sensitization curriculum was revised for children under the age of 12, and a three-day Gender Sensitization Training of Trainers was delivered to stakeholders in February 2022. Seventeen persons from various government ministries and NGOs, including school counselors received this training. The gender-sensitive training curriculum is intended to teach children about appropriate behaviours when it comes to issues of sexual conduct, the importance of consent and how to recognize and report experiences of molestation, harm or abuse.

When it comes to sex trafficking and exploitation of prostitution, while there are no formal reports about these activities, management and staff in the Department of Gender Affairs have received unofficial reports and hearsay of situations of human sex trafficking and forced prostitution, particularly among members of immigrant communities. Since there have not been any formal reports or clear evidence of such activities the Department/State are not at liberty to act at this time. However, this is a noted area of concern that should be monitored and examined as time unfolds.

The Office of Legal Aid is integral in ensuring access to justice for cases where legal representation for survivors may be financially out of reach. However, recognizing the limited knowledge that individuals have about domestic violence legislation and their rights and options for recourse to justice, Gender Affairs has made a plea for the office of Legal Aid to extend its work in the area of public education and awareness building so that women can have the necessary information about the law, their rights and their entitlements in order to keep themselves safe and access the justice they need.

Non-governmental organizations must be mentioned and affirmed for their advocacy in improving the system and providing resources for housing women who attempt to flee abusive homes. In the past few weeks, various NGOs took to the streets calling for the compassionate release of a domestic violence survivor who was taken into custody for murdering her alleged abuser during a brawl. This advocacy of NGOs has brought much more attention to the prevalence of gender-based violence and the public’s desire for state action and change. While the Department of Gender Affairs works to support victims and survivors by providing and directing them to resources that help them to leave abusive environments and to stay protected, there is still no government-run shelter to house victims fleeing situations of domestic violence in St Kitts or Nevis. However, the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with a privately-run shelter to provide temporary accommodation for women and their children under the age of 5 years. Faith-based organizations also continue to lend support in temporarily housing victims of domestic violence. The provision of temporary housing is part of the strategic agenda and Gender policy action plan for the government to take a more comprehensive approach in its provision of social protections for women and children who experience violence and abuse. The department also offers short-term rental assistance to women who have left abusive partners and need a boost of economic stimulus to start over and resettle on their own.

About Women’s Participation in Political and Public Life

Since the 2022 General election, women’s participation in political and public life has seen a marked increase. This year was the first time in the Federation’s history that seven female candidates campaigned for elections federally and locally. Not only does the new Cabinet has a female representation of 38%, including myself, but the newly appointed deputy Governor General is a woman who was formerly an elected member of parliament and the first female speaker of the National Assembly. I believe these developments represent a shift in attitudes and culture around women’s leadership in politics. NGOs also have a part to play in encouraging, training and supporting women in this regard. Regional organizations like Caribbean Women in Leadership (CEWiL) and the Women In Politics Leadership Institute (WIPLI) have been instrumental in creating peer networks and facilitating workshops that build confidence and development leadership competencies for women to participate in political life and take public office.

Although there are still no laws that mandate quotas for woman’s representation in political parties or in government, it is positive to note that each political party in St Kitts and Nevis has either elected or appointed female representation in politics and public life. Since this year’s 2022 election there have been appointments of women as Chairpersons on Statutory Boards, as well as the appointment of women in prominent leadership roles including, Press Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Permanent Representative to the UN for St. Kitts and Nevis. Appointments of competent women in these roles align with the new Prime Minister’s commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. In fact, at the UN General Assembly just two weeks ago, the Prime Minister the Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, during his state presentation, reaffirmed his pledge to advance gender equality and youth empowerment across St Kitts and Nevis and internationally in pursuit of achieving SDG 5 – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The Prime Minister’s commitment thus far has been demonstrated in his openness, encouragement and political will to change and adapt systems for the betterment of women’s lives and experiences in social, political and public life. As one of three women in his Cabinet the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and members of this committee, and the international community can rest assured that the Prime Minister will be held accountable to following through on his aspiration and commitment to achieving SDG 5.

Regarding Education, Employment, Health, and Covid-19 Recovery

In St. Kitts and Nevis, female representation in traditional education classes and courses has observably outnumbered males. Although when it comes to STEM and IT fields, an effort to increase female participation is needed and ongoing. Reports received from the National St. Kitts and Nevis Robotics Association and Team indicate that since 2017 there has been a steady increase in female representation among members of the association. In 2022, the percentage ratio of females to males is 54:46 percent, respectively. I’d like to take this opportunity to note that our national robotics team is currently here in Geneva competing in the FIRST Global Robotics Challenge under the leadership of a female team captain. So I must express my congratulations and wish our team the best of luck, I have no doubts that the young people will represent St. Kitts and Nevis extraordinarily well. Correspondingly, in technical and vocational education female representation is similarly on an upward trend as more females enrol in technical vocation courses at the local 6th Form college and advanced vocational educational school on the island.

The Department of Technology also plays a part in promoting digital training for girls and young women in St Kitts and Nevis. International Girls in ICT Day is an initiative of the International Telecommunications Union aimed at recognizing the contributions of women in ICT and encouraging girls and young women to pursue careers in the digital and tech economy. Girls in ICT Day is observed on the fourth Thursday of April each year; 2021 marked the tenth anniversary of this initiative. One key activity hosted by the Department of Technology was the Robotics & Programming Session held on April 28th 2022. Sixteen girls from different schools learned about the fundamentals of programming using mini-robots as learning aids. The Department has also organized an internship for girls in 1st and 2nd form (I.e. 7th and 8th grade) to learn web development, programming and 3D printing. This was a two-week paid internship held during the semester break in March and April for 6 to 12 girls to participate. A two-week summer day camp was also held for children aged 10 to 15.

In employment, promotion and training programs for women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment are ongoing on both islands. In addition to program explanations detailed in the submitted report and subsequent responses, opportunities for entrepreneurship in agriculture for women are being promoted and provided by women-focused farming organizations, namely Capisterre Women which is a rural-based NGO and Helen’s Daughters, a regional initiative for women farmers. It is also worthwhile to note that the Department of Labour has taken steps to designate a gender officer to increase gender-based assessments of the work carried out by the department, this step aligns with the government’s intentions to adopt gender mainstreaming across all ministries and programmes.

Health promotion among women is led by the Health Promotion Unit within the Ministry of Health. Regular health fairs that offer free health checks to individuals are held in public squares, community centres, churches, and in business places in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles and better health outcomes. A new oncology unit was opened at the main hospital in St. Kitts and local Breast Cancer Associations and NGOs work to promote awareness, coordinate support groups and offer free mammograms to women regularly throughout the year. In relation to reproductive health, barrier contraceptives are freely available from the office of the Ministry of Health and the Youth Department, which partners with the Ministry of Health to spread sexual health education among young girls and boys. The availability of free condom contraceptives complemented by increased access to sex education through school curriculums and the internet may be contributing to the declining trend in teen births that is recorded over the past five years. Work in this area can increase to become more established and form consistent programming.

Regarding Marriage and Family Relations

The St. Kitts and Nevis National Gender Policy and Action Plan codify the government’s commitment to mainstream gender. The policy highlights Culture, Family, Religion and Mass Media as a primary domain of socialization and speaks ‘To strengthening the family as a healthy and cohesive unit to promote the elimination of discrimination and promote gender equality for all’. The strategic actions under this tenant are to:

Promote consistent positive messaging, reinforce all family structures, and the principle of equality and shared responsibilities for household maintenance and care work.
Reinforce the role of fathers/men as caregivers and homemakers in providing guidance, care, and support for their children’s overall well-being and development.
Increase opportunities for dialogue among men and their associations on issues of interest and importance: health etc, and as positive enablers of gender quality.
Advocate for/promote the equality of rights and access of men/boys and women/girls
Invest in community-level parent education and support programmes that redefine the prescribed gender roles of women and men.

Through the implementation of these actions, the government seeks to strengthen family bonds while breaking gender stereotypes and toxic notions of masculinity that perpetuate discrimination and violence against women.

In summary, St. Kitts and Nevis acknowledges the work that is still to be done to advance women’s safe and equitable participation in social, economic and political life. As a new Minister of Social Development and Gender Affairs et al, I am committed to supporting the advancement of this work among technocrats and staff across the government. I must thank UN agencies, including UN Women, for the country-level support and technical assistance they provide in helping St. Kitts and Nevis develop policies, projects and programmes that enable us to meet our obligations under this CEDAW Convention. In my country’s thrust to continue this work, it would be remiss of me not to solicit continued support and assistance for UN agencies and multi-agency development organizations that have the means and resources to assist with our plans and efforts. I look forward to continued dialogue and questions from the committee in relation to this statement and any of our previous submissions. Thank you.

Video Link:

Support for Juan Guaidó has dwindled

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

By Sir Ronald Sanders 

(The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States of America and the Organization of American States.   He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto) 


At the height of Donald Trump’s presidency of the United States (U.S.) when, on January 23, 2019, he anointed Juan Guaidó as the “Interim President” of Venezuela, as much as 50 countries joined him in a folly that persisted until October 6, 2022.

Juan Guaidó was never the “Interim President” of Venezuela.  He never had the power or authority to change anything within Venezuela, and he certainly was not in control of a government in Venezuela that could negotiate with any government in the world.   Guaidó’s “Interim Presidency” was a fiction from its beginning, largely concocted by President Trump’s re-election campaign team whose eyes were tightly focussed on votes of the Cuban-Venezuelan exiled community in Florida.

Emphasis was placed on the Organization of American States (OAS) where, traditionally, the U.S. Government has exerted considerable influence over the 35-nation membership.  Note that the OAS Secretariat continues to count Cuba as one of its members, even though Cuba was effectively suspended in January 1962, and it rejected a June 2009 OAS resolution, which ended Cuba’s exclusion from the Organization and invited the Cuban government to request participation after a “process of dialogue”.

The background is as follows: On April 27, 2017, the Government of Venezuela denounced the OAS Charter and announced its withdrawal from membership of the Organization with effect two years later on April 27, 2019, as required by the Charter.  In August 2017, a Constituent National Assembly was elected in Venezuela to draft a new constitution. The election was disputed within and outside of Venezuela.  However, The Democratic Unity Roundtable – the opposition – boycotted the election, claiming that the Constituent Assembly was “a trick to keep the incumbent ruling party in power”.  Since the opposition did not participate in the election, the incumbent Great Patriotic Pole, dominated by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, won almost all the seats in the Assembly by default.

On August 8, 2017, eleven member states of the OAS formed “The Lima Group” whose stated purpose was “to address the critical situation in Venezuela and explore ways to contribute to the restoration of democracy in that country through a peaceful and negotiated solution”.  They also made their partisanship very clear, by stating, “Their decision not to recognize the National Constituent Assembly, nor the acts emanating from it, due to its illegitimate nature’ and “Their full support and solidarity with the National Assembly, democratically elected”.

The eleven countries were: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.  Their first meeting was also attended by representatives of Guyana and Jamaica.  The then governments of Guyana, Haiti and St. Lucia subsequently joined the group. The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and El Salvador were also described as “regional observers” to the Group.  Today, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and St. Lucia have all discarded the “Lima Group”, and its agenda for regime change in Venezuela.

It was the “Lima Group”, together with the U.S. that were active in the OAS throughout the period, August 2017 to January 2019, in initiating various resolutions and declarations on Venezuela.

On January 23, 2019, Juan Guaidó, as head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself “interim president” of the country and was immediately recognised by the then-U.S. President, Donald Trump.  Subsequently, the following 16 member states of the OAS similarly declared recognition of Guaidó: Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru.  It is this group of states whose representatives in 2019 were active in the OAS, along with Jamaica and St. Lucia, in support of Juan Guaidó as the “interim president” of Venezuela .

Amid protests and objections of 15 member states, on April 19, 2019, by the slimmest majority of 18 votes at a meeting of the Permanent Council, which was convoked contrary to its rules, a Resolution, accepting the Venezuelan National Assembly’s nominee as the designated Permanent Representative, was adopted.  Many objections were formally communicated to the Secretariat of the OAS, the United Nations Secretary-General, and all member states of the OAS, in addition to being footnoted to the Resolution.

Subsequently, on June 28, 2019, the OAS General Assembly, again by the slim majority of 18 votes, plus the vote of the disputed Venezuelan representative making it 19, accepted the Permanent Representative to the OAS designated by the “National Assembly” of Venezuela.    This resolution was inconsistent with the provisions of the OAS Charter, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations, and the methodology in the UN system.   It was blatantly wrong.

Several delegations formally protested the decision and recorded that they would not accept any decisions, declarations or resolutions, which that included the vote of Guaidó’s representative to form a required majority.  Among the countries that formally registered their disapproval were: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bolivia, Dominica, Grenada, Mexico, Nicaragua, St Kitts-Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

Throughout the period of the participation of Guaidó’s representative in the Councils of the OAS, he used meetings as a bully pulpit for expounding his political party’s viewpoint.  At a meeting of the Permanent Council on December 16, 2020, he falsely and maliciously excoriated the government of Trinidad and Tobago over the circumstances in which a boat sunk between Venezuela and Trinidad, calling for “an investigation into the treatment of Venezuelan migrants in Trinidad and Tobago”. The boat, with no safety equipment on board, was built to carry eight persons but had 41 migrants on board.  He was not challenged by the Chair of the Permanent Council – sadly a Representative of a CARICOM nation – for this offensive and false allegation.  It was left to the Trinidad and Tobago representative to reject robustly the attack of an outlier in the OAS Council.

The only other body in the entire international system in which Guaido’s representative illegally sits is the OAS ancillary body the Inter-American Development Bank – a situation that also requires review.

In the event, on October 6, 2022, at the 52nd Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly, Antigua and Barbuda, with the co-sponsorship of 10 other countries, proposed a Resolution to overturn the illegal 2018 decision to seat Guaidó’s person as the representative of Venezuela.  However, to get the item on the agenda of the meeting, according to the anachronistic and inappropriate rules, a majority of two-thirds of the membership was required.

The U.S. and Canada had vigorously and widely lobbied every government not to support the effort to get the topic on the agenda.  Despite their efforts, a majority of member states – 19 of them – voted to do so; only four countries voted against.  The latter four countries were the U.S., Canada, Guatemala, and Paraguay.   The two big countries managed to stop the transparent dialogue, which they demand should be standard conditions in nations, but they failed to garner support for the continuing illegal presence of Juan Guaidó’s person in the councils of the OAS.

It is significant that the U.S. itself is now bargaining directly with the de facto and de jure government in Venezuela over oil and the swapping of prisoners, recognizing that Guaidó is in charge of nothing and that the fallacy of his “Interim Presidency” is fully exposed, as is the injury done to the OAS.

At the OAS General Assembly, Antigua and Barbuda, in presenting the item to remedy the folly of seating Guaidó’s person, stated: “This is an effort to maintain the credibility, authority and integrity of the OAS”.

It should be recorded that 11 of the 14 CARICOM countries voted in unity.  Three governments abstained – Haiti because of its reliance on the U.S. in its current precarious situation; Guyana because of the sensitivity over its present border contention against Venezuela at the International Court of Justice; and Jamaica which has continuously voted favourably to install and maintain Guaidó’s representative.

However, the reality is that support for Guaidó has dwindled in the OAS to four declared member states, and while it was imposed, it was never credible and is now not sustainable.

Responses and previous commentaries: 


Antigua Airways announces date for inaugural flight to Lagos

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

It will soon be easier to fly between Antigua and Barbuda and Nigeria as Antigua Airways has confirmed the date for its inaugural service.

In a post to social media yesterday, Antigua Airways said: “First flight departing Lagos on the 31st of October 2022 confirmed; holiday package in Antigua with return on the 6th of November 2022.”

The airline will use its single Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which has 16 business class and 251 economy class seats, to fly from its hub at the V.C Bird International Airport in St John’s Antigua.

Photo: Antigua Airways

Antigua Airways will offer three weekly connections from Saint John’s to Lagos, Accra in Ghana and Toronto, Canada.

The cost of tickets and flight times have not been revealed but the airline has urged customers to contact them about package deals to Antigua.-LOOP



Political Debates Should Be Included In Antigua And Barbuda Election Campaigns, says Wickham

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

POINTE XPRESS: In the United States and other nations around the world, political debates are a popular and normal feature of election campaigns, particularly among high profile candidates.

The opportunity gives candidates the opportunity to go head to head on the pressing issues of their campaign.

They have the power to make or break political contenders and have been proven to be valuable in helping to convince on-the-fence voters where they should place their support.

Despite their value, political debates have not caught on in the Caribbean.

Barbadian political scientist, Peter Wickham, says this is “quite unfortunate”.

“There’s a sad reality that across the region political debates are few and far between.

“Most leaders take the position that to give the opponent a debate is to allow them a dignity that they should not afford them. That has been the case across the Eastern Caribbean.

“We have debates in Jamaica. In Trinidad and Tobago, from time to time they have had them, but it has not been part of the institution, Barbados, we had debate once or twice and then, you know, invariably someone else finds a reason not to do it,” Wickham said.

Wickham’s comments stem from comments made this week by Prime Minister Gaston Browne in which he indicated his willingness and confidence in participating in a debate with the leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell or Opposition Leader, Jamale Pringle, and the Democratic National Alliance’s (DNA) head, Joanne Massiah.

Wickham is of the opinion that a series of debates during the election campaign could benefit the country and the leaders of the three main political parties.

“I think it would be great to have a debate, especially as Mr. Lovell is not a member of Parliament. It would be good to hear him face off against Prime Minister Browne, and even Joanne Massiah, quite frankly, to have the three face off in a debate on various issues.

“Debating is part of the political landscape that is sadly absent in most Caribbean countries and I think it’s unfortunate that we could not have had a debate, especially as the leader of the UPP is not a member of parliament, and neither is the DNA,” Wickham said.

There have been a handful of debates in the twin-island nation.

The most recent took place a few months ago in the St. George’s constituency between the incumbent Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) Representative Dean Jonas, the UPP’s Algernon “Serpent” Watts and the DNA’s Kelton Dalso.


Large chunk of Ministry of Education 2023 allocation for school infrastructure

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


File photo: Minister of Education Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.

EDUCATION Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly has said a significant part of the 2022/2023 budget allocation to her ministry will go to schools’ infrastructure needs.

The ministry plans to use $165 million of the $7.453 billion allocated to it in this fiscal year for emergencies and other repairs.

Speaking at the PNM’s Diego Martin West 49th constituency conference on Wednesday night, Gadsby-Dolly told the audience deterioration is not uncommon, but the ministry is concerned that more and more schools need emergency repairs.

“Think about your own home, think about how many things go wrong in your home every day – a pipe burst, guttering falling – and multiply that by 800, and think about the fact that schoolchildren running through these buildings, and understand this is always going to be a challenge and something we are going to be spending significant funds on.”

She said over 300 of the 800 schools are over 40, some over 60, and “many of them, some of them 100 years old – so you can understand that school infrastructure has to take a significant chunk of the budget.”

If more money is needed, Gadsby-Dolly said, the ministry will source additional funds from the Ministry of Finance.

Her comments came after classes at the San Juan North Secondary School had to be suspended after a piece of concrete from another floor broke off and injured a student below. A photo on social media, purporting to be the child’s head, showed a shaved area with a stitched wound.

Then on Wednesday, the ceiling collapsed in the hallway in front of the staffroom at St George’s College, Barataria. The school has been closed and classes reverted to online. No one was injured.

Confirming reports of the incident at St George’s, Gadsby-Dolly told Newsday on Wednesdaythat it happened after heavy rain damaged the ceiling.

She also shared at Wednesday night’s political meeting that over $900 million from the allocation will be used to assist operations at tertiary-education institutions.

Around $33 million will go to pre-schools, $228 million in grants for schools to cover other operational costs, $400 million for GATE and $380 for social programmes such as transport, training programmes, devices for teachers and students, and help loans.

From the $380 million allocation, $270 million will fund the school feeding programme.

She said, “All of this is aimed at the social aspect of education, helping students so that they are in a place where they can benefit from the education that is given.”

Cox: 32 food cards stolen from ministry desk

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox – File photo/Sureash Cholai

Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox has described the theft of food cards from an employee’s desk as beyond unacceptable, as she stressed that such provisions were intended strictly for those in need.

In her contribution to the budget debate in the Senate on Thursday afternoon, Cox announced that 32 food cards were stolen from the unlocked drawer of a ministry employee in August, adding that the permanent secretary was told of the theft two weeks later.

She said while the matter was being investigated by the police and an internal enquiry was under way, analysis of the spending patterns on the stolen cards showed cash was being allowed to accumulate.

Cox also said the withdrawals and spending patterns showed the cards were being used at businesses not on the ministry’s list of vendors approved to accept food support cards.

She said these thefts were particularly difficult as the government tried to provide for the needy in the face of financial challenges.

“The report provided on the replacement cards between October 2021 to August 2022, and about 30 food cards, there were balances being accrued for approximately six months, and these balances ranged between $5,000 and $39,000.

“So we are talking about replacement food cards that were left in a drawer, were not supposed to be in use – and this is the kind of money that was found: as much as $39,000 was found on the card.

“The investigation of the accounts of the card showed that in the first month of 2022 the replacement cards received continuous monthly top-ups with no spending activity, and that changed from June 2022-August 2022, when significant top-ups were observed.

“It has been noted that there are vendors showing up on the reports that are not listed on the ministry’s list of food support merchants.

“Remember, Madam President, that is a food card, for food, not for furniture, not for payment of insurance policy.”

Cox added that incompetence should not be allowed, as it could allow corruption and malfeasance to flourish.

She added that food cards were intended to help families in need meet their basic requirements, but referred to instances where people used food cards to buy alcohol and cigarettes.

She also noted that people who live abroad have been issued food cards.

Cox also said in its audit the ministry also uncovered cases of abuse in the distribution of disability grants.

“We recently found someone who had been working at the THA for 20-something years and had been on disability grant, but had also been permanently employed.

“You are supposed to be certified disabled by a doctor (to receive the grant). So therefore I don’t understand how come that individual – and we may have many other persons, because in our review, in reviewing our grants, we have been discovering so much.”

Stop night collection for online purchases Loop Barbados

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Given the rising popularity of online shopping, especially from local retailers on social media, the Barbados Police Services is warning customers to be careful when collecting their purchases.

Inspector Stephen Griffith, acting public relations officer cautioned that persons were becoming “targets for criminal activity”.

“Several persons arrange for the sale and purchase of items on various social media platforms, in order to finalise these sales arranges are made to meet in various locations to complete the fiscal aspect of the sale. This results in person travelling alone to areas unfamiliar to them, sometimes at night where they become targets for criminal activity,” said the inspector, in a recorded statement.

The public relations officer then proceeded to offer several crime prevention tips to those conducting transactions.

“Please avoid travelling to places alone to which you are unfamiliar. Conduct cash transactions in populated places and avoid conducting cash transactions at night. Avoid travelling with large sums of money. Purchase items from authentic people or places. Be aware that some items offered for sale maybe stolen,” he stressed.

PM Mottley talks financial reform and Bridgetown Agenda in Washington Loop Barbados

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Barbados continues to take steps towards reforming the global financial system through The Bridgetown Agenda.

This came to the fore on Wednesday, October 12 as Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley met with global leaders and also joined with Finance Ministers from across the world for the first in person Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Along with a Barbados delegation, which included Barbados Ambassador to the United States Noel Lynch, Director of Finance and Economic Affairs Ian Carrington and Senior Economic Advisor to the Barbados Government, Dr Kevin Greendige, Prime Minister Mottley met with the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Development, Victoria Ford and President for COP 26, Alok Sharma to discuss some of the goals and objectives of The Bridgetown Agenda.

Prime Minister Mottley (left) greets UK Minister for Development Victoria Ford before the Bilateral Meeting

Prime Minister Mottley also attended the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, which took place at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Headquarters in Washington, DC during the annual IMF/World Bank Annual meetings.

This meeting, which featured representatives from the 56 Commonwealth countries, focused on highlighting and addressing emerging economic issues in Commonwealth countries under the theme, ‘A Road to Economic Recovery: A Macroeconomic Perspective’.

Prime Minister Mottley explained, these meetings came at a critical time for the world as it faces a multiplicity of issues including the current climate crisis, a cost of living crisis coming out of the Pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and a looming developing country debt crisis.

The Bridgetown Agenda comes as a response to those crises, outlining the path to urgent and decisive action and the reformation of the financial system to create one that is fit for purpose by providing emergency liquidity, expanding multilateral lending to Governments and creating new multilateral mechanisms to trigger private sector savings for climate mitigation and fund reconstruction after a climate disaster.

Over the next few days, Prime Minister Mottley will continue to meet and engage world leaders and stakeholders on The Bridgetown Agenda.